By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
As the occupation of Iraq continues and the death toll rises, another voice at the Los Angeles campus of the University of California (UCLA) has been added to the list of anti war activists. While the voice may be relatively new to the students, it is a voice from the past for their parents and grandparents.
Students for A Democratic Society (SDS) is composed of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and allied personnel. During the 1960â€™s and 1970â€™s SDS was one of the primary voices to speak out against United States involvement in Vietnam.
This past Thursday the campus SDS sponsored a march and rally to protest the unjust war in Iraq with its corollary death toll and destruction of Iraqi infrastructure and civilian property.
The rally took place at UCLAâ€™s Bruin Plaza, a centrally located outdoor meeting place and eating area. Bruin Plaza is often the site of recruiters and campus activists.
Meeting at Bunche International Hall, the demonstrators marched through campus often joined by other students and even more frequently receiving cheers from passersby. As they marched they chanted â€œWhat do We Want – Peace; When do we Want it – Nowâ€ and â€œOccupation is a Crime, from Iraq to Palestineâ€. After marching through the school cafeteria, the demonstrators began their rally on the McClure Stage in Bruin Plaza.
Those already in the square turned their attention to the speakers while others soon joined them.
The demonstrators held signs with such messages as: â€œStay out of Iranâ€, â€œFive Years too manyâ€, and â€œWar is not the Answerâ€.
The speakers detailed the death and destruction caused by the American occupation. One speaker held up a military issue backpack and told his audience of the weapons carried by soldiers in that type of pack. This backpack, he said, belongs to a soldier who had four deployments. On his last deployment he left behind a two year old child.
Another speaker called this war a â€œGreen Card Warâ€. Many Americans do not realize, she continued, that in 2002 President George Bush signed into law a fast track bill that grants a Green Card as a path to citizenship to any immigrant who enlists. Military recruiters station themselves in Americaâ€™s poorest neighborhoods to prey on young men and women. At present some 30,000 troops are â€œGreen Cardâ€ troops.
There were gasps from the audience upon hearing this aspect of the war. â€œI didnâ€™t know about thisâ€ said one young woman. â€œThese immigrants must feel trappedâ€.
A speaker asked Iraqi war veterans to speak out. Another read a moving poem.
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) worked with SDS in preparing this event. One of their members spoke at the rally. In referring to the length of the war and the actions that have taken place in opposition, he asked where our sense of urgency had gone to. â€œAnyone with an ounce of humanity should be against the war.â€